New epistemological foundations for Cultural Psychology: from Atomistic to Self-organizing Living Systems

An epistemological foundation for cultural psychology is essential to neuro- and behavioural sciences for the challenge psychological sciences must currently face: searching for an explanation of how a brain can become a mind and how individuals assign a sense to the world and their life. Biological systems are very likely determined by physical and chemical laws of spontaneous self-organization and endogenous constraints but, even if the major result of the Darwinian revolution is “the discovery that living species are their story”, the modern synthesis of the evolution theory adopted only continuist and gradualist hypotheses. This nourished the analogy between the theory of natural selection and the theory of operant conditioning, thereby supporting empiricist associationism and the methodological positivism of behavioural and “classical” cognitive psychologists. Current scientific contributions provide evidence to the need for psychotherapy and psychopathology of a new epistemological approach in order to connect research stemming from animal models, up to the most abstract levels of personal meaning. The complex system oriented approach, here described, called “post-rationalism”, shaped by a change initiated by evolutionary epistemology. The regulation of emotions initially develops within interpersonal relationships and evolves during both phylogeny and ontogeny, according to complex self-organization processes, leading to the acquisition of Self-organizing abilities and the construction of personal meaning. Endorsing the epistemological similarities of neo-Darwinism and behaviourism, and differentiating from this, the above mentioned approach, emphasises the fact that clinical and psycho-therapeutical practice must be founded on the laws of biological organisation: the ongoing activity of neurobiological systems, including the more abstract domains of thought and language.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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